Who hasn’t been transported to another moment in time when hearing a song from our past? For me, it’s a song from the Meet the Beatles album….no matter what…when I hear one of those early 60s songs, I am no longer folding laundry….I am back to 1967 on the floor of our dining room next to our record player/console…singing every word…actually “seeing” the album cover and room around me and “feeling” like kid again. It seems like magic….but, its real!
What is YOUR song?
Think about it….MUSIC is a large part of our LIVES; during happy times, sad times, important times, tragic times. It is in the background of the story of our lives. Music is everywhere! Music connects us to each other and to our shared HISTORY.
This connection is based in science…music is an ancient and universal language we all share. Research is confirming the therapeutic value of music in healing and for those living with Alzheimer’s or other type of dementia….becomes a bridge to memories unable to be reached and connection to sense of self.
Music is engaging, even for those whose dementia has caused withdrawal and apathy. Why? Because music activates and “lights up” more parts of the brain than anything else and once it captures our attention, we are more likely to stay engaged and reap the benefit.
Music is emotional and for people with dementia, it plays an important role in re-gaining access to emotions and memories. Think about the basic response to a song…with a smile or a tear. Studies show this increased response does not end with the song.
Music is naturally a very physical stimulus. It is hard to separate the experiences of music and movement, and when we hear certain types of music, we All get a strong urge to move our body to the music. Simply moving in time with one another to music has many positive therapeutic benefits. Pairing music and movement, therefore, encourages exercise and subsequently benefits cognition, mood, and behavior.
Music is social. Isolation is one of the most significant challenges associated with dementia. Improvements in attention, behavior, mood, and wellbeing are often seen after participating in group singing and music activities that connect us as humans.
Music is personal through its ability to reinforce our sense of self as it is commonly linked with our identity. Creating and sharing a personally preferred music list of those songs from a person’s life story can help reduce levels of agitation, anxiety and can even help with orientation to unfamiliar environments.
Try to FIND THE MUSIC of your loved one’s life. It’s easy! Be a music detective! Start with a list of 10 songs…some upbeat, some relaxing….try using a headset so the music can drown out distractions…YouTube, Spotify, amazon are all easy ways to identify SONGS. The basic guideline is to search for songs during the years the person was 10 years old to 25 years old. Begin offering popular songs of each year….see what happens! You will know when the RIGHT song is discovered!
A great project for the Grandchildren on visits!
Some resources can be found at http://www.aliveinside.org/awakening
Remind yourself that People with Dementia are just that……People. With the same basic needs as all of us…to be love, accepted, and connected to others. Music not only provides some real therapeutic value to those living with dementia…but also a VEHICLE to these basic needs.
So simple….so globally understood by all….the one thing we can always count on to connect us – The GIFT of MUSIC!